top of page

Courtney M Leonard


Woven Earthenware and Coiled Micaceous Clay




SUBSISTENCE (Study #2) is a visual account and response to ongoing issues of environmental sustainability and cultural viability as currently our coastal aquaculture harvesting in Long Island, New York is threatened by an increase of nitrogen run-off creating large algae blooms combined with warming waters.

The fragility of the environment as a non-functioning space where generations of coastal people have been able to harvest is metaphorically consistent with that of the material of ceramics, a material harvested from locality, woven and intertwined in this work with architectural integrity, however, will never be strong enough to hold a full load of shellfish if put to task.

This piece will never have to function, because we can't fill our baskets even if we wanted to. The PSP levels are so high that the effect of neurotoxins will kill us if consumed. As a person who comes from a coastal community we were always blessed to go to our shores, dig our feet in the sand, place our hands in the water and fill our baskets with enough to eat.  

Can a culture sustain itself when it no longer has access to the environment that fashions that culture? Can we? 


Courtney M. Leonard (Shinnecock, b.1980) is an artist and filmmaker, who has contributed to the Offshore Art movement. Leonard’s current work embodies the multiple definitions of “breach”, an exploration and documentation of historical ties to water, whale and material sustainability. In collaboration with national and international museums, cultural institutions, and indigenous communities in North America, New Zealand, Nova Scotia, and the United States Embassies, Leonard’s practice investigates narratives of cultural viability as a reflection of environmental record.

Leonard's work is in the permanent public collections of the United States Art In Embassies, the Crocker Art Museum, the Heard Museum, ASU's Art Museum and Ceramic Research Center, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of the North, the Mystic Seaport Museum, and the Pomona Museum of Art.

insta: @courtney.m.leonard

bottom of page